Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

March 7, 2013

Sheets sponsors bill to deal with RIZ

By Larry Sheets, Iowa House District No. 80 representative
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — The last week in February I was assigned the chair position of two subcommittees. The first subcommittee was part of the Environmental Protection Committee. House Bill 181 is an act relating to title abstracts to property with sewage disposal systems. It was written to correct an oversight in a previous related bill. Referred to as the “Septic Tank Cleanup Bill,” it passed through the subcommittee with no contention and added some humor.

The second subcommittee was part of the Local Government Committee, regarding the bill I sponsored, HSB 184. This bill is about Rural Improvement Zones. The Boards of Supervisors of various counties are concerned about the existing legislation that deprives the counties of future property tax revenues for the benefit of the residents of the zones. This involved considerable controversy where some counties liked the zones and others did not.  My main concern was the lack of ceiling or time limits for these improvement zones.  I authored an amendment allowing the option to extend the seven year arrangement by an additional seven years via the city board of supervisors’ discretion, in order for them to pay off debt or to continue the zone. Further amendments are expected.

The House Republicans finished the month of February by releasing their budget targets for Fiscal Year 2014. The proposal calls for state General Fund spending to be at $6.4 billion in the next year starting on July 1. This amounts to a modest increase in state spending of just 3 percent. When compared to what can be spent under the current expenditure limitation law, the House targets spend only 89 percent of that amount. And, the state would have an ending balance of $840 million at the end of FY 2014. Over the last 20 years, annual revenue growth has averaged 3.3 percent.  The FY 2014 budget proposed by House Republicans ensures that state government will operate effectively within that amount.

The first week in March was “funnel week.” This is the last week for all bills to be passed through the committees; otherwise the bills will die with possible resurrection next session.

I, along with legislators in and around District 80, spoke at two forums: one at the Vermeer Pavilion in Pella; and the other one in Ottumwa.  I also attended a farewell gathering for our former district’s state senator, Mark Chelgren.  Sen. Chelgren now has a new district and is becoming a notable ally and friend to me.

Upcoming forums:

• March 16: “Legislative Coffee” at 10 a.m. in Centerville at the office of Chariton Valley Planning and Development, 308 N. 12th St.

• March 23: “Osky Eggs & Issues” at 8:30 a.m. at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns at larry.sheets@legis.iowa.gov or (641) 895-6153.